TYRONE Downie’s football journey has taken him from the Bendigo Gold to the Gold Coast Suns after he was selected by the AFL club at Wednesday’s rookie draft.
And Bendigo Pioneer Billy Evans also earned a rookie draft opportunity following his selection by the Brisbane Lions at pick No.4.
Downie’s drafting serves as one final parting shot from the Bendigo Gold after the VFL club folded earlier this year.
Downie was taken by the Suns at selection No.59.
“Once I get up there and start training it will sink in, but right now it’s a bit of a blur,” Downie said.
“They (Gold Coast) had told me on Tuesday I was a chance, depending on how the rest of the draft panned out and thankfully, the cards fell my way and I’ve got the opportunity.”
Forward Downie, who turned 26 in September, joined the Bendigo Gold for the 2014 VFL season from Kangaroo Flat, purely with the aim of playing the best standard he could.
“Every footballer wants to play AFL and I’ve always wanted to do that,” Downie said.
“But joining the Gold, I didn’t do that to get drafted, I did it to play in the VFL.
“Had the Bendigo Gold still been around next year and I hadn’t got this opportunity, I still would have played VFL.”
Downie was the Gold’s leading goalkicker this year.
Playing in a side that didn’t win a game and averaged just eight goals per game, Downie kicked 31 for the Gold.
Downie moved to Bendigo in 2007 as an 18-year-old to play with the Bendigo Bombers, but was restricted to just two games in his first season after breaking an ankle in a practice match.
He then spent 2008 to 2013 with Kangaroo Flat in the Bendigo Football League, coaching the Roos in his last two seasons before signing with the Bendigo Gold in October, last year.
Downie kicked 255 goals in his six years at Kangaroo Flat, although, his 2010 and 2011 seasons were soured by injury.
Throughout his time at the Roos, Downie battled knee inflammation arthritis, a broken collarbone suffered in Bendigo’s inter-league game against Geelong in 2011; foot stress fractures and a broken scaphoid.
“It hasn’t been the easiest ride, that’s for sure, but I’ve got an opportunity now,” said Downie, who had signed with Richmond’s VFL team for next season following the demise of the Gold.
Downie paid special tribute to the work of the Bendigo Gold’s former coach Aussie Jones and chairman Tim Dickson for their effort in 2013 in ensuring the club survived into this year to provide him the VFL opportunity.
“I’ve spoken to them both this week and I was very grateful with the fight they went through last year to get the second year of the Bendigo Gold,” Downie said.
“If they didn’t do that I probably wouldn’t have played VFL and then wouldn’t have got this opportunity.”